Friday, March 29, 2019

Garden Friday

It's Garden Friday!
It's spring, it's really spring!
The frigid winter air is all but a memory.

The apple tree is budding, despite its poor condition.
This poor soul was not well cared for by the previous owners,
but it still strives to provide food.

 There are quite a number of things going on in the veggie garden.
Our cover crops have suddenly exploded.
I guess they were waiting for the warmer weather too.
This will be hacked down and left in place as mulch,
and seeds or transplants added to the raised rows.

A few dozen beets were sown this week.
This is the first time I have soaked the seeds before planting.
Just look at those sprouts poking through!
Conditions seem ideal right now for these chill lovers,
so I'm hoping we will get a nice harvest.

The Yukon Gold potatoes were prepped for planting this coming weekend.

 They were cut in half and left in a box to "scab" over.
This year, I will be growing them in loose straw 
in the potato towers I made last year.
It's fun trying new techniques in the garden.

The extra lil' room next to the master bath
is being taken over.
It's my makeshift greenhouse for beans,
eggplant, peppers and herbs that are not ready to face the cold mornings.

Two types of heirloom cucumbers are already popping out
of the containers.  
Germination took less than a week.
I'm thinking of adding these to the straw bales.

Lettuce took no time at all to germinate in the hugelkultur bed.
I used to carefully place seeds in the soil,
this time I just scattered them in their designated spot
so they can be used as baby greens.
Harvesting smaller leafy veggies helps you enjoy them
at their tender best.

 I adore the new arches we put up on the northeast side of the garden.
We decided to remove the rusty wire (on the left),
and get a few more cattle panels when they go on sale.

The intention is to grow runner beans,
melons and squash on them.
Leaf mulch was added to the ground underneath
to deter weeds, grass and create more of a walkway.

 Unbelievably, I found someone who was selling straw bales
for only three dollars!
A farmer who lives around the corner from us
had some leftover straw and just wanted to get rid of it.
The bonus is that he doesn't spray his fields, 
so it will be fine for growing food.

I spent some time leveling the bales and getting them set up the way I wanted them,
on the east side of the garden.
I like the structure they add.
This year, I will be skipping the 10-day conditioning process,
and simply soaking them with water before planting.
As long as I use good soil, I think that will be enough.

 This tulip tree in my neighbor's yard
was just begging to be photographed.
What a beautiful sight from our kitchen window.

The forsythia is blooming like crazy around here lately.
The color, shape and texture are all so lovely.

We've had blooming tulips under the apple tree.
The same ones I thought I moved last year!
So far, I haven't seen them pop up anywhere else,
so maybe it was something else that got relocated.
In any case, they are a sight to behold, so intricate.
They make a sweet lil' arrangement for the kitchen table.

 Various daffs are exploding all over the neighborhood.
These stand under where the big oak used to be.
What a blessing to have all these amazing flowers surrounding us.

It's been a busy few weeks.
With spring floating in, it's bound to get even busier.
Between working for others, volunteer projects
and tending my own garden, each day is filled with
hard work and ample joy.
Spring may just become my favorite time of year.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Pollinator Workshop

Last weekend, I had the opportunity 
to take a class on pollinator gardens 
at the Catawba Cooperative Extension Office.
The course consisted of a bit of classroom time,
which offered vital information about this beneficial subject.
The second part of the class was hands-on
and we made our way outside
on a gorgeous, crisp spring day.

This triangular piece of land
adjacent to the vegetable garden was the focus of our work.

A plan had been previously devised
and helped us know where to place the designated plants.

After the classroom presentation,
we moved outside to create a pollinator bed.

Tools were gathered for the project.

The Extension Center had an abundance
of rich, valuable compost available for this project.
A couple of us were on mulch duty,
hauling it from one end of the property
to the new bed.

The sheet mulch method
(also known as lasagna gardening)
was utilized,
layering cardboard over the grass
and then covering with compost.
The cardboard is a great weed deterrent,
and is the way I prefer to deal with unwanted grass at home.

Our group was enthusiastic
and it was plain to see
that experience was not lacking.
Many of the volunteers have already been through
the Master Gardener program.

The compost should aid the new residents
in retaining moisture from rainfall,
as well as keeping them cooler during the summer months.
It's also one of the best ways to keep weeds at bay.

Although I had to leave before the project was completed
(we ran a bit over our time),
it was really coming together quickly.
With plenty of room to spread out in the future,
these plants should give the local pollinators plenty to enjoy
over the next few years.
I can't wait to go back to see how it's filled in.

If you are interested in adding some pollinator-friendly
plants to your garden, keep these tips in mind:

~Pollinators need a diversity of flowers.
~Choose plants that bloom at different times of the year.
~Create habitats for those who prefer tight spaces,
using grasses or a handmade "bee hotel".
~Provide a water source as well as
some bare ground for nesting bees.

Check out this link
for a free design planner
to get you started.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Garden Friday

 Welcome to Garden Friday!
We have been loving this rainless (for the most part), sunny week in the garden.
Last weekend I was able to direct sow many of my lettuce and kale varieties.
It felt so good to feel that warm, welcoming soil.

The garlic that was planted in the fall is looking strong!
I'm thinking it might be a good idea to plant a lot more of it,
or do two separate plantings,
as we use this crop almost daily in our cooking.

 The shallots are also coming along
and I need to plant this on a regular basis.
Shallots are the mildest of the onion family
and add so much flavor to dishes.
The bonus is that they are a breeze to grow!

Look at this gorgeous green oakleaf lettuce.
This was planted by seed in October
and is just now taking off.
It is mild and sweet and oh-so tender.

 The leeks planted a few weeks ago are standing tall
and seem to be content in their storage bin home.
These will be "banked" when they get a bit taller.

The beets will soon be transplanted along the perimeter of the garlic bed.
There are golden, early, and Detroit red beets getting their start here. 

There are sweet potatoes soaking inside,
so that I can have slips ready for planting in another month or two.
Our odd little "spa room", as we call it,
is being turned into a greenhouse of sorts,
as it is still too cold to have most seedlings outside.

 It was so exciting to install our first blueberry bushes!
Pine straw mulch was added for insulation,
moisture retention and the acid-giving properties of the pine.

 It's been perfect weather for pruning,
so I took my pruners to this butterfly bush.
C had been commenting that he could hear the branches
rubbing across the siding outside his window.
As is often the case,
this was planted a bit too close to the house.

A few pieces came right out of the ground,
so I will find them some room to groove.

 We used our trailer this past week
to pick up some pallets that someone was giving away.
They'll be used for some project or another.

A fellow Master Gardener donated all of this grapevine
toward my wattle fence project.
I also have a neighbor right down the street
who is giving me all the branches I need to use as stakes.
I can't wait to get started on that!

While clearing out and raking,
I came upon our septic tank opening.
This wood was outlining the area around it.

It was moved and is now serving a more functional use.
Use whatchagot!

I may be jinxing myself,
but I believe spring is here to stay.
So many things to look forward to.
Stay tuned.

Garden On!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Community Garden Workday for March (2019)

With temperatures finally breaking 50
and no rain in the forecast,
we had a productive day at the monthly Community Garden workday.
The beds have been sitting mostly untended,
and with the amount of rain over the winter,
there was plenty of weed-pulling to be had.
This Community Garden occupies space at the Y in Denver, NC.
(You can see it off in the distance.)

The garlic we planted in the fall is doing well,
regardless of irrigation issues.
Thankfully, the rainy winter took care of our watering.

A few of the other beds had some yummies growing.
These beds are sponsored by individuals
who pay $50 a season for the chance to grow their own food.
The cost covers soil and water,
they just need to add their veggies of choice!

There are several "community" beds as well,
and the food grown in these beds is used to support
the local food bank here in Denver.

Some folks end up renting a bed here
because they just don't have space
or the right growing conditions where they live.

This hardy lettuce has made it through the winter
and is still going strong.
In my garden at home,
I have watched the lettuce sit dormant for months,
and have just now been able to harvest greens.
It was a strange winter for gardeners.

For the most part,
we were all on weed duty.
The beds are tended by the renters,
so they clean up their own soil.
The walkways and community beds
were our target,
and there was plenty for us to do.

What a beautiful day to work together
making something better.
I feel truly blessed to be a part of this benevolent group.

It seems to be the season for shed cleaning.
One of the projects that several of us worked on last week
was cleaning and reorganizing the tool shed at the Community Garden.
Currently, it is shared by two separate groups,
but it will soon be solely the garden's storage unit.

We took out every single item in the shed,
and swept the shelves and floor thoroughly.

The right side of the shed is where we've been storing the garden supplies.
It's nice to see that we have room to spare on the shelves.

The left side is currently housing materials for a summer camp program.
The Y is making another area available for these supplies,
so the garden will have more space for our equipment.

The space under this shelf was ideal for the wheelbarrows,
and they can be safely tucked underneath and out of the way.
Once the camp materials are rehoused,
we will be able to use the entire shed for our purposes.

One of the most important components when organizing,
is to use as much of your vertical space as possible.
The hanging racks for the tools is the perfect example
of an efficient use of space.

Here are the befores (left) and afters (right).
I'd say it'll be a bit easier to find what we need from now on.

Another good day's work done.
Looking forward to next month's planting time.
It's an exciting time in the garden!

"Giving back creates a virtuous cycle
that makes everyone more successful."
~Ron Conway